Did Roman Abramovich secretly fund the world’s largest cannabis company?

Documents leaked Late last year, several companies owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has been under international sanctions since the war in Ukraine, have invested in numerous companies in the American cannabis industry and also helped finance the two largest shareholders of Curaleaf, one of the world’s largest companies. a cannabis company with a market capitalization of nearly $3 billion.

the leaked The disclosures originate from 30,000 files of Cyprus-based accounting and trust company Meritservus Secretaries. They appeared Denial of Distributed Secretsa non-profit website for whistleblowers.

These files were scanned by a consortium of journalists Anti-Organized Crime and Corruption Projectas he allowed the media Justice News Where Barron’sa publication about The Wall Street JournalBrowse thousands of records.

Abramovich’s main cannabis activity

according to the information provided by Justice News after baronsRoman Abramovich has made a big bet on Curaleaf, a Massachusetts-based cannabis producer whose 146 stores in 21 US states have made it the world’s largest licensed cannabis company.

The Russian billionaire’s business records show that he was one of Curaleaf’s founding shareholders and that he financed Curaleaf with about $186 million in loans. When the war broke out in Ukraine, he transferred his cannabis investments to family members.

In addition to Abramovich’s direct financing of Curaleaf, Baron estimates that he loaned Curaleaf’s largest shareholder, Andrey Blokh, and its chairman, Boris Jordan, about $84 million on the condition that they spend the money on Curaleaf stock. When Jordan created a secret venture capital fund, Abramovich provided two-thirds of the initial capital. Abramovich also committed $12 million to Blokh to pursue cannabis business opportunities in the western United States.

His secret finances in the US were hidden behind many trusts and offshore companies. To make Abramovich’s name disappear from the public record. On the other hand, Millhouse appears family office d‘An investment vehicle of Abramovich, Cetus, Abramovich Trustees or Meliastove Investments.

After the first disclosure, Curaleaf claimed that Abramovich never had any influence or decision-making role and severed ties.

“Mr. Abramovich is no longer a creditor or investor in Curaleaf,” the company said, “and the loans he made to his founding shareholders to invest in the company have been repaid for several years.”

“Curaleaf was one of thousands of companies around the world and in the United States that benefited from Mr. Abramovich’s funding,” Curaleaf’s statement continued. “At the time, he was a sought-after investor and a world-renowned businessman. It remains unauthorized in the United States. »

However, the oligarch remains the main lender in Curaleaf’s debt transactions. Justice News It was able to determine that Abramovich made a $60 million loan to Curaleaf through Meliastove in December 2021. Curaleaf claims it still owes Meliastova, but has been assured that Abramovich no longer owns it.

At the end of 2018, Cetus’ balance sheet showed that it had invested $130 million in cannabis and another $194 million in loans to the sector.

Among its holdings: California cannabis delivery service Eaze; Toke.TV webcast producer Greenrush Media; dispensary software vendor, Flowhub; CBD brand Green Gorilla; and vape maker Tilt Holdings.

The executives who brought Abramovich’s investment no longer work at the company, Tilt says. Eaze says he was unaware Abramovich owned Cetus.

Curaleaf is also present in Europe with the acquisition of the British EMMAC in 2021 or the acquisition of the German company Four 20 Pharma in late 2022.

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